Va. woman who killed abuser can’t escape clutches of her felony past

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/womans-criminal-record-upends-her-life-25-years-later/2015/03/30/4cb95966-ccf5-11e4-8a46-b1dc9be5a8ff_story.html?wprss=rss_national

In the past few years, perhaps because of the nation’s abiding fear of crime, its litigiousness, or the Internet’s ease at churning up background information that may not have surfaced before, Thomas has been rejected or terminated from several high-paying jobs.

She had been making $150,000 six years ago. Now she is on food stamps. Sheetz, Wal-Mart and other retailers have turned her down for jobs. She could lose her Cecil County, Md., home…

More than 600,000 former inmates return to their communities each year. About half of them wind up back in prison. Their convictions, even minor ones, often prevent them from finding jobs, in many cases resulting in their return to crime…

To break the cycle, the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP and other organizations have been pushing “Ban the Box” legislation that would prohibit employers, during preliminary screening, from disqualifying job seekers on the basis of a criminal record…

This kind of legislation was looked at in New Mexico this session, but didn’t pass.

Thomas said that her mother’s live-in boyfriend began molesting her when she was 12. The abuse continued for five years, she said, even after Thomas alerted adults.

After dropping out of school, Thomas married and had three children. But the abuse haunted her. It transformed her into a “mannequin” who seemed normal outside but empty inside, she said.

After three suicide attempts, Thomas, then 26, decided to confront her abuser. Armed with a gun, she demanded to know why he had done it. When he told her she must have liked the sex or else she would have stopped it, Thomas said, she shot him. She turned herself in the following day…

In recent years, the Internet has eased the ability of people to run background checks with firms such as Intelius, PeopleSmart and PeopleFinders, and large corporations often run their own extensive checks…

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