DEAR ABBY: My life has always been scary. My parents divorced when I was 3. Dad always seemed to cause trouble for Mom, who struggled to provide for me and my older sister. She always struggled with alcohol and drugs.
I have spent a portion of my life incarcerated, starting when I was a teenager. I'm now 22 and doing time for selling drugs. I have never been able to find a decent job, although I have my GED and tried to attend a school for nursing, but I screwed it up. Selling drugs seemed to be the only way to make enough to support myself.
I'd like to find a decent job with opportunity, and be able to pay my bills and save a little. I'm tired of my crazy lifestyle and want to settle down. How can I go about finding a job? Keep in mind, I don't have a resume and although I have had many jobs, I never stayed very long, and I have a criminal record.
— Serving Time in Pennsylvania
DEAR SERVING TIME: I admire that you have decided to change your life and walk the straight and narrow from now on. A place to start would be to talk to the prison chaplain. Some religious denominations have programs in place to help inmates and former inmates successfully transition back into society.
The oldest prison/re-entry group in the country is the Pennsylvania Prison Society. The website is prisonsociety.org. If they don't serve the community into which you will be released, they will know an organization that does. The re-entry program helps former prisoners attain self-sufficiency through a four-day job readiness workshop, which teaches the skills necessary to find and keep a job. Preregistration is recommended, and the phone number is (215) 564-6005, ext. 117.