List of Most Felon Friendly States 2022 [UPDATED] (2023)

What are the best felon friendly states? Before we delve into that, lets take a look at the struggles ex-convicts go through. Most felons struggle to integrate back into their communities. They face many issues when it comes to obtaining employment for decent pay.

Sure, you can work under the table, but how will this help you in building an employment base, honest reputation, and eventually a good-paying job? One thing is for sure, convicted felons find it hard to return to society when society does not think kindly of their kind.

Fortunately, there are a few states that are welcoming felons with open arms. Is this something you have been dreaming of since the day you were discharged from prison? If so, you might as well know right now, a state-to-state relocation is in order to make this dream a reality.

First, you must create a list of the most felony friendly states. From here, you can research each option to determine which will suit your felony needs and preferences the most. To help jumpstart your effort, a list of the top felon-friendly states is provided in the content below.

Working After Prison

List of Most Felon Friendly States 2022 [UPDATED] (1)

Former US President Barack Obama openly supported the restriction of employment criminal background checks. In 2014, the Obama administration discouraged Senate from passing legislation that would expand criminal background checks as part of the employment process.

In March 2018, President Obama filed an order that would require the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to delete more than 500,000 names (potential pedophiles and murderers) from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The former President believed the order would help impacted individuals obtain employment without further ado.

Working after being released from prison is out of the question for many convicted felons. In fact, a study conducted by researchers at the Legal Action Center “LAC” revealed that almost 75 percent of former prisoners are unable to find employment. The organization claims 1 in 3 adults (70 million) living in the United States has a criminal background.

Experts believe recidivism is believed to be contributed partly to the inability to get a decent job after being released from prison. The Bureau of Justice released a report that showed former inmates have a 76.6 percent 5-year recidivism rate. A study conducted by the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) revealed that former federal inmates have a 5-year re-arrest rate of 44.7 percent.

Felony Offenses

Felony offenses are classified by severity and prison sentence. There are five felony offense classes A, B, C, D, and E, and three misdemeanor classes, A, B, and C. Not all US states utilize a classification system that ranks felony offenses on a scale of 1 to 6 while others utilize a degree classification system.

It is crucial to know this information, regardless if you are a convicted felon or have never been convicted of a crime.

The letter classification system, utilizing classes A through E are as follows:

  • Class A – Life or death
  • Class B – 25 years and up
  • Class C – 10 to 25 years
  • Class D – 5 to 10 years
  • Class E – 1 to 5 years.

As you can see, Class E is the minimum prison sentence while Class A is the maximum prison sentence. Minnesota, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, Idaho, Georgia, and Washington, D.C. rate felony offenses “By Crime.”

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Felony convictions that are considered the most severe include:

  • Murder
  • Arson
  • Rape
  • Drug violations (dealing in a large amount)
  • Kidnapping
  • Burglary
  • Larceny-theft
  • Assault
  • Driving while under the influence (DUI)

Unfriendly-Felon States

If you ever hope to have an easy re-entry back into society, you must avoid all unfriendly-felon states. These states restrict the felon’s right to vote in local, state, presidential, and congressional elections.

Other restrictions may include international travel restriction, jury service disqualification, and parental rights revocation. Convicted felons may also be legally prohibited from a political run.

What To Look For In A Felon-Friendly State?

List of Most Felon Friendly States 2022 [UPDATED] (2)

Getting what you want out of life after prison may be easier than you may at first thought. But, it will only be possible if you make the right decision the first go-round. There are factors that must be considered at all costs when searching for a felon-friendly state. These factors include the following:

  • Employment availability
  • Civil rights reinstatement and protection
  • Background check regulations
  • Housing availability

Your main goal should be to ease back into society with little to no public attention. If your name has been plastered all over local and mainstream media outlets, a discrete reentry may not be possible. Being a suspect in a high-publicity case complicates reentry for former prisoners.

While you may be under the impression, everyone knows who you are, it may be possible to slip under the radar in a community that is open to accepting new members with a criminal record. It will not be easy, but again, it is possible with a bit of research, patience, and time.

Does A College Degree Exempt A Felony Conviction?

Not necessarily, it really depends on the employer and state and local laws. Some prisons are offering qualified inmates academic opportunities. Nearly all US prisons have academic programs that allow inmates to pursue their GED. Some go as far as to permit qualified inmates to enroll in college courses offsite, corresponding via mail.

Unfriendly-felon states believe inmates do not deserve access to higher education opportunities. Keeping this in mind, many felon-friendly states offer qualifying former inmates college grants, stipends, and tutoring opportunities.

However, many colleges have taken a stance that utilizes background checks as part of their admission and application process.

7-Year Background Check Rule

Several US states have passed bills that prohibit background check services from going back past seven years. Background checks in these states look at criminal convictions from the past seven years. For example, an applicant considered for employment with Amazon signs a background check consent.

The applicant has a felony conviction that dates back eight years prior. The criminal conviction will not be part of the applicant’s background check record. In fact, the employer will have no idea the applicant has a criminal history unless it is openly discussed during the interview.

States that have passed similar background check laws include the following:

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  • Kansas
  • New York
  • California
  • Massachusetts
  • Texas
  • Nevada
  • Montana
  • New Mexico
  • Colorado
  • Washington

Most Felon Friendly US States

1. California “The Golden State”

List of Most Felon Friendly States 2022 [UPDATED] (3)

California ranks as one of the top felon-friendly states. California officials believe prison inmates deserve a second chance. The state is continuously releasing inmates with “good behavior credit” back on the street. On May 2, 2021, officials released a statement discussing plans to release 76,000 prison inmates, in an effort to minimize California’s inmate population. Many of the eligible inmates have a violent criminal history, some are repeat felons.

The decision to release the inmates would support a one-third sentence reduction, down from the average one-fifth.

California offers inmates ample opportunities to join various reentry programs statewide. All qualifying inmates can enroll in one of the reentry programs prior to their scheduled release date.

While officials support convicted felons, there is a lack of effort to reduce the state’s current recidivism rate, which is currently 50 percent. California’s recidivism rate has remained the same for the past 10 years.

2. Kansas “The Sunflower State”

List of Most Felon Friendly States 2022 [UPDATED] (4)

Like California, Kansas passed a bill into law that would permit background check services to look at the last 7 years, with one very big stipulation. The law only pertains to employment with a $20,000-salary cap. In addition to the 7-year background check rule, qualifying former prison inmates can enroll in counseling and education programs to improve their circumstances.

Kansas’ prison system allows inmates to participate in reentry programs ahead of their release dates.

Kansas does not permit convicted felons to vote in the state, congressional, or local elections. Following a felony conviction, you are no longer a legal voter in the State of Kansas. However, state officials have agreed to permit former inmates to seek voter reinstatement.

Kansas has exceeded California by decreasing its recidivism rate to 33.1 percent, compared to California’s 50 percent recidivism rate. The lower recidivism rate has been contributed to state programs that offer former inmates support on various issues.

3. Massachusetts “The Old Colony State”

List of Most Felon Friendly States 2022 [UPDATED] (5)

Many people would not consider Massachusetts a felon-friendly state. In fact, most people would believe otherwise. Massachusetts’ 7-year background check law is similar to that of Kansas.

Background check services are not permitted to look at criminal convictions over the past 7 years. The state has various reentry programs that inmates can participate in before their scheduled release dates.

(Video) Jobs For Felons (2021)

Only employers looking to hire applicants with felon convictions that were handed down seven years and one day prior can do so without knowledge.

The state does not condone convicted felons withholding their criminal history from employers. State officials believe honesty is the best policy for felons and employers. The law only applies to employment with a $20,000 or less salary cap.

Massachusetts is following Kansas ever so slightly, with a 32 percent recidivism rate, which has been contributed to re-entry programs, housing assistance, and rehabilitation programs.

4. Nevada “The Silver State”

List of Most Felon Friendly States 2022 [UPDATED] (6)

Nevada’s population in 2018 was 3.03 million. State officials have passed a law that allows employers to run background checks that look at the past 7 years. Like California, Nevada’s 7-year background check does not have a salary cap.

Nevada offers newly released prison inmates counseling and academic programs. Immediately upon release from prison, felons’ voting rights are reinstated.

A report released by the Nevada Department of Corrections revealed the state’s recidivism rate at 28.63 percent, one of the lowest in the nation.

If you are overly concerned about voting, Nevada may be your best felon-friendly option. The state supports former inmates in more ways than one. The mere fact, voting rights are reinstated instantly upon release from prison,

5. New York “The Empire State”

List of Most Felon Friendly States 2022 [UPDATED] (7)

New York is another felon-friendly state. The state has a 7-year background check law and a 40 percent recidivism rate. The law only applies to employment opportunities with a $25,000-salary cap.

New York offers ex-inmates various education, health, housing, and legal service opportunities.

A report released by the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision revealed the current inmate population is 54,700. The inmates are housed in state-owned and state-operated prisons.

List of Most Felon Friendly States 2022 [UPDATED] (8)

Robert Gomez

Robert Gomez was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. He currently lives in Northern California with “the wifey,” “the kids,” “the dog,” and “that cat,” 🙁 He is also a former journalist who has interviewed murderers on death row. was born to help ex-felons get a second chance in life.

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What degree is best for a felon? ›

Getting Started – A Guide on the Best Degrees for Felons
  1. Business Administration. One of the best online degrees for felons is business administration. ...
  2. Computer Science. ...
  3. Construction Management. ...
  4. Counseling. ...
  5. Criminal Justice. ...
  6. Culinary Arts. ...
  7. Entrepreneurship. ...
  8. Foreign Language.
16 May 2022

Can you rent an apartment in Texas with a felony? ›

In Dallas, Denton, and other major cities in Texas, they are strict across the board. Currently, in Dallas or Denton or any of those major cities, you will not be able to rent an apartment if you have had a misdemeanor within the last five years or a felony within the last seven.

Is Arizona a felony friendly state? ›

This means that Arizona employers can no longer ask an applicant about their criminal history on a job application. While this requirement is only for the public sector and has no hold on private companies, the “Ban the Box” policy makes Arizona a more felony friendly state.

Can a felon get a passport? ›

According to USA Today, most felons can get a passport without a problem. This is assuming a person is not currently awaiting trial, on probation or parole or otherwise banned from leaving the country.

Can a felon buy a house in Texas? ›

Getting a Loan to Buy a Home After a Felony

Even Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans are available to those with a felony conviction on their record. FHA loans generally approve people who do not have a perfect credit history and may be a good choice for someone whose felony occurred at least a decade ago.

Can a felon be a scientist? ›

If a felony isn't disclosed but is found on a background check, this constitutes fraud and is punishable by law. It is a crime to falsify an application, and could result in being sent back to prison. In order to be successful as a biologist, it is essential for felons to be honest about their background.

Can a felon go to college in Texas? ›

As a person with a criminal record, you might be wondering, can felons go to college? Good news — the answer is yes! You will need to pay attention to the program and degree you choose, and may need to take special steps during the application process.

Can a felon be an underwater welder? ›

Yes, there is a decent chance to become a welder with a felony conviction. Welding is an industry that has a strong history of giving work opportunities to felons.

How far back do Apartments check criminal history in Texas? ›

Information is considered outdated if it is more than seven years old for negative information or for bankruptcies more than 10 years old. It could be a violation of the Fair Housing Act for a landlord to have a blanket policy of refusing to rent to anyone with a criminal record.

Can felons get government assistance in Texas? ›

Felons who live in Texas will find that they have numerous grant programs they can turn to if they are experiencing financial difficulty. The grants that are available are largely made possible by the federal government, but some are funded by local and state agencies.

What rights do felons lose in Texas? ›

Felons are stripped of their right to vote. Texas state law does not allow a convicted felon to regain voting rights until they have completed their sentence, parole, or probation.

What can a felon not do in Florida? ›

Florida law deprives convicted felons of certain Civil Rights including the right to vote, serve on a jury, hold public office, and restricts the issuance and renewal of some professional licenses such as real estate and insurance.

How long does a felony show up on a background check in Arizona? ›

Arizona, however, abides by the rules of the FCRA. This means background checks in the state won't go back further than the seven previous years. In Maricopa County, a criminal background check will look back over your whole life, providing information relating to convictions and deferred judgments.

Can you work for local government with a felony? ›

The Office of Personnel Management (OPE) does not prevent you from applying for or being hired for government jobs. In fact, there is a lot of evidence to the contrary. Many felons have been allowed to apply for and even successfully been hired for many types of jobs.

Can a felon go on a cruise? ›

Short Answer: Yes, a felon can go on a cruise but not all types of cruises. It depends on the type of cruise and what the destinations, or ports you will be visiting while on the cruise ship. Not all ports and countries will allow US felons on their soil or waterways.

Can I go to Canada with a felony? ›

Any American that has a felony conviction on their criminal record may not be permitted entry into Canada unless they have received special permission from the Canadian Government.

What countries are felon friendly? ›

You can travel to the following countries if you are a convicted felon:
  • Brazil.
  • Cambodia.
  • Chile.
  • Egypt.
  • Ethiopia.
  • Hong Kong.
  • Indonesia.
  • Ireland.

What can felons not do? ›

A person may not vote, serve on a jury, obtain commercial driver's licenses, possess a gun or join the U.S. armed forces.

Can you be a lawyer with a felony? ›

The short answer is yes! A convicted felon can become licensed to practice law, though not in all states. As of 2015, only three states and one territory outright ban convicted felons from ever becoming lawyers: Kansas, Mississippi, Texas, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Can felons be around other felons? ›

The Takeaway: If both people fully completed their sentences, two felons can live together. But often, terms of release or probation will prohibit you from living with another felon. A judge may make exceptions in some cases, such as if you are married to someone with a felony record.

Can I join the CIA with a felony? ›

We trust our employees to uphold the highest standards of conduct. Recent involvement in criminal or unethical behavior can disqualify you from getting a clearance. This includes pending criminal charges, felony convictions, and a dishonorable discharge.

Does Amazon hire felons in Texas? ›

Yes, Amazon has always hired felons for warehouse jobs. These are usually temporary positions, but if it works out, the company will hire a felon for full-time work. Amazon has always stated that they won't discriminate against people with a felony on their criminal record.

Can you be a phlebotomist with a felony in Florida? ›

Background checks of phlebotomists and other healthcare workers help protect patients from abuse and confidentiality breaches. If you have a criminal record, you will not be eligible for either training or licensure in states that require a license.

Can a felon qualify for financial aid? ›

Can you still get financial aid even if you have a conviction on your record? The short answer is: yes. Many people with felony convictions can receive financial aid, but they don't apply. The best way to find out what aid you qualify for is by completing the FAFSA.

Can a felon vote? ›

As of 2018, most U.S. states had policies to restore voting rights upon completion of a sentence. Only 3 states — Iowa, Kentucky, and Virginia — permanently disenfranchised a felony convict and 6 other states limited restoration based on crimes of "moral turpitude". The US Supreme Court in Richardson v.

How can a felon get his gun rights back in Texas? ›

Restoring Your Gun Rights in Texas

In Texas, a person convicted of a felony may not purchase or possess a firearm. Firearm rights are automatically restored 5 years after release from confinement or probation. However, the individual may only possess a firearm on the premises where the individual lives.

Is welding a good career for felons? ›

Many convicted felons find that welding is a rewarding career. As a welder, you can perform a range of welding tasks depending on where you live and the area in which you would like to specialize.

What is the highest paying underwater welding jobs? ›

5 of the highest-paying underwater welding jobs for commercial divers in the U.S. and Canada
  • Marine Pipefitter. ...
  • Nuclear Plant Maintenance Specialist. ...
  • Quality Assurance Inspector (Ship Vessel Repair) ...
  • Salvage Diver. ...
  • Dredge Operator.
15 Apr 2017

How much do underwater welders make? ›

According to commercial divers and global statistics, the average underwater welding salary is $53,990 annually and $25.96 per hour. However, most incomes float around $25,000 – $80,000. Diver welders in the top 10% make $83,730 while the bottom 10% pull in $30,700.

What is a red flag in a background check? ›

One of the most common red flags on a background check is inconsistency. If a background check for employment pulls up different information than what the candidate and their resume told you, you need to investigate the matter.

What background check do most landlords use? ›

A rental background check is an additional screening tool that allows landlords to see various aspects of a tenant applicant's past behavior. The majority of the data you'll see comes from the three major credit bureaus: TransUnion. Equifax.

Can I do a background check on myself? ›

To run a personal background check, you will need to provide basic personal information like your name, date of birth, residential address and Social Security number. Although results typically appear instantly, some searches can take up to a few days.

How can a felon rent in Texas? ›

In Texas, if a landlord rents to a convicted felon, he or she can be sued for negligence.
In addition, these four requirements are always essential:
  1. You must meet each adult applicant who would be moving in. ...
  2. You must verify their identity with picture ID.
  3. You must be able to verify all information on the application.

Can drug offenders get food stamps? ›

[44] Those convicted of certain drug offenses will be allowed to receive SNAP if they have either completed probation, parole, community corrections, or a reentry program or are in compliance with specified conditions to not violate any terms of their probation, parole, community corrections, or participation in a ...

Can felons get Medicaid in Florida? ›

Yes, people with felony convictions can get Affordable Care Act health insurance in the United States. And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, people with felony convictions are now eligible to apply for Medicaid health care upon release from prison.

Can a felon get an insurance license in Texas? ›

§§1033 and 1034, prohibits an individual who has ever been convicted of a state or federal felony involving dishonesty or breach of trust from engaging in the business of insurance unless the individual is specifically authorized to do so by an insurance regulatory official.

Can a felon get a passport in Texas? ›

Most convicted felons and ex-felons can get a passport. However, even if you are issued a passport, it does not mean that you will be able to travel anywhere you wish. Many countries refuse to let convicted felons enter their borders, both for public safety and for political reasons.

Can a felon get a concealed carry permit in Texas? ›

Owning a Gun as a Convicted Felon in Texas

Convicted felons can't take their guns off of their properties. This means they can't legally open carry their firearms in public and they are ineligible to obtain concealed carry licenses.

What percentage of the US population are felons? ›

Number of People by State Who Cannot Vote Due to a Felony Conviction
StateTotal Disenfranchised% Disenfranchised
47 more rows
30 Jul 2021

Is Colorado a felony friendly state? ›

No one with a felony record is allowed to possess, use, or carry a firearm in the state of Colorado. In many states, a felony record also takes away your ability to apply for government benefits.

How many felons are in Oklahoma? ›

A total of 219,000 Oklahoma adults have been in prison or on probation for a felony…. 8.2% or 1 in 12 adults. 91,000 of the prisoners are former prisoners (79%)… 24,000 are currently in prison (21%)…

Where did the word felony come from? ›

The term "felony" originated from English common law (from the French medieval word "félonie") to describe an offense that resulted in the confiscation of a convicted person's land and goods, to which additional punishments including capital punishment could be added; other crimes were called misdemeanors.

Can a felon vote? ›

As of 2018, most U.S. states had policies to restore voting rights upon completion of a sentence. Only 3 states — Iowa, Kentucky, and Virginia — permanently disenfranchised a felony convict and 6 other states limited restoration based on crimes of "moral turpitude". The US Supreme Court in Richardson v.

How many people in the US have a felony record? ›

As a ballpark estimate, over 20 million Americans in society at large currently have a felony in their past, and this immense population is effectively statistically invisible.

Can you vote in Illinois if you are a felon? ›

Regardless of your criminal record, anyone who is not serving time for a conviction is eligible to vote in Illinois. serving a sentence in any federal or state prison, county jail, or are on work release.

Is Wyoming felon friendly? ›

Wyoming prohibits the use or knowing possession of a firearm by any person who has previously pled guilty to or been convicted of committing or attempting to commit a violent felony or any felony causing bodily injury to a peace officer.

What can felons not do in Texas? ›

If you are convicted of a felony, you also lose the right to serve on a jury panel. This right may be restored if you receive a pardon. The same is also true of losing your right to hold public office after a felony conviction. Furthermore, a felony conviction will disqualify you from holding certain professions.

What can a felon not do in Florida? ›

Florida law deprives convicted felons of certain Civil Rights including the right to vote, serve on a jury, hold public office, and restricts the issuance and renewal of some professional licenses such as real estate and insurance.

What felons cant do in Oklahoma? ›

A “felon” cannot have employment in such fields as a

Such consequences, which persist long after the end of imprisonment, include: Disenfranchisement. Exclusion from obtaining certain licenses, such as a visa, or professional licenses required in order to legally operate. Ineligibility to adopt or have foster children.

What can felons not do? ›

A person may not vote, serve on a jury, obtain commercial driver's licenses, possess a gun or join the U.S. armed forces.

What can a felon not do in Oklahoma? ›

Felons in Oklahoma are prohibited from the following activities: Voting during your sentence. Serving on a jury. Running for office within 15 years of the end of your sentence.

What is the most common felony? ›

Drug abuse violations are the most common felony charges in recent years, with about 2,000,000 violations annually, according to some estimates. Property crimes – including auto theft, burglary, larceny, arson, and theft.

What do you call a person who committed a felony? ›

usage note for felon

Once a person has been convicted of a felony, he or she can be considered a felon for life, according to the strict meaning of the word.

What do you call a person who commits a felony? ›

Some examples of felonies include murder, rape, burglary, kidnapping and arson. People who have been convicted of a felony are called felons. Repeat felons are punished extra harshly because sentencing laws take into consideration their criminal history.


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