Date of Conferral







Patricia I. Fusch


The public sector is the largest employer that requires a background check. When African-American male ex-offenders return to their communities, they are often unable to find work in local government because of their criminal record. The central research question for this phenomenological study explored the lived experiences of African-American male ex-offenders regarding their employability in the local government sector. Guided by Sampson and Laub's life course perspective theory, a purposeful sample of 5 African-American male ex-offenders who applied for work or who currently work for local government entities in the state of Georgia was selected for this study. A three-interview approach was employed to include life history, details of experience, and reflection on the meaning of experiences. The Van Kaam method of analysis was used to analyze the interview data. Eleven central themes emerged that included the importance of employment, limited knowledge of employment, background and hiring process, stigma of a criminal record, lack of available resources, attitudes and biases of hiring managers, good support system, and limited opportunity for a second chance. It is recommended that local government agency officials use positions classified as 'hard to fill' as training opportunities in an apprenticeship program to help ex-offenders learn new skills to help them secure employment. The findings and recommendations have implications for positive social change in local government agencies. Local government entities may modify organizational policy and practices including recruitment strategies that eliminate discrimination against African-American ex-offenders to help improve their quality of life and become contributing citizens within the community.