Convicted Felons Face Employment Obstacles


WEST POINT, Miss. (WCBI)-A West Point man claims a local company is refusing to hire him because of his past criminal record.

Anthony Swift said he was offered a position at Yokohama Tire Corporation.

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However, after they completed a background check and saw he was a convicted felon, Swift said they rescinded that offer.

“It’s kind of like I got convicted all over again,” said Swift. “I was there, I was qualified, I did what it took to get to that point, but then they use something that had already been taken care of to deny me, so it was a hurt.”

Swift spent a total of 16 years behind bars for selling drugs.

When he asked the company for their reasoning on why he was denied the job, he said they sent him an email showing his convictions.

“For them to hold it against the person who’s been convicted of a crime, a drug offense or what have you, and then later on still hold it over their head, it’s kind of like saying the Mississippi Department of Corrections is not doing their job, that they can’t rehabilitate people,” said Swift. “People can be rehabilitated.”

There are federal laws that prevent employers from discriminating against someone due to their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetic information.

However, when it comes to convicted felons, companies are free to make their own policies.

In Mississippi there is not a law saying companies can’t discriminate against hiring convicted felons seeking employment.

Swift said that’s the harsh reality that many convicted felons are faced with and he desperately wants to see a change.

“It’s kind of prejudicial to the people who’ve been incarcerated to just be denied flat out because of a conviction that you’ve already served time and completed,” Swift expressed.

Swift believes it’s unfair and puts convicted felons at a disadvantage.

He said once a person pays their debt to society, they deserve a second chance, a chance to show they’ve learned and grown from their mistakes.

“The door should be open for everybody who is willing to come in and work on a job and do what they are supposed to do and follow the rules and guidelines of the company,” said Swift. “As long as the person does that, what’s required of the job, your past is in your past.”

WCBI reached out to Yokohama for a comment on this matter.

A spokesperson said “Yokohama does not disclose confidential information regarding its candidates or employees.”

Beginning July first a state law will go into effect called The Fresh Start Act.

Senate Bill 2781 states that no one shall be disqualified from pursuing, practicing or engaging in any occupation for which a license is required solely or in part because of a prior conviction of a crime, unless the crime for which the person was convicted directly relates to the duties and responsibilities of the licensed occupation.