Could I work in research psychology with a felony?

I am returning to school after a long break in between and must change paths after 3 years headed down another one. I had been an early childhood education major. At this point, I realize it will take me another 2 years minimum to complete my undergraduate degree. I am fine with that and am ready to begin classes next semester. I just do not know what to major in. It all sounds relatively hopeful up to this point, I know. Here is where it all goes south…

I have some significant self-imposed road blocks and barriers in my way. I am a convicted felon with one prison prior and a record of several non-violent felony and misdemeanor convictions- spanning the years 2002 to 2007.

I became addicted to prescription pain meds during my last days as a preschool teacher in 2000. I was married and we owned our own home. It was a matter of a year or so before I had stopped working, transitioned to heroin,becoming addicted alongside my husband. Before long we had sold our house and had spent the equity money from the sale. We tried to get clean. But without success, on countless occassions and entered numerous residential programs only to end up back in our addictions within a short period of time.

Addicted and without income,we were now really desperate. My first criminal charges in 2002 were for trying to cash a stolen business check, I took two counts for that- one forgery and one fraud. I only served 40 days but within months served another 60 and then 90 for petty thefts and a possession. I had never so much as been sent to the principal’s office before that happened. Once I began my downward spiral, it seems I couldn’t stay out of jail. Lousy criminal. I served 180 days for another petty theft before eventually serving a county year in 2006 for possession with a prior.

All during this time, I kept trying to get clean. I couldn’t stay off the heroin for long, simultaneously but without my knowledge, on the east coast, my youngest sister had become addicted to heroin- as well. We lost her to an overdose in 2003. There were friends lost along the way,too. . Then, my husband- died suddenly of a heart attack in 2006-. I was in jail serving a county year and was unable to attend his funeral

Soon after his death, I was mandated to a residential program following my sentence completion. I very foolishly, and impulsively. Chose to leave it before successful completion. I now had a warrant. Within a half a year I was caught. I was being pulled over for speeding and knew I had a warrant along with a car full of other charges. I took off and ran from the police. I served 16 months for felony evading arrest in prison.

I have been clean/sober since that arrest in june of 2007 and even discharged from parole within the first 13 months. I am thriving today- in recovery. It was an addiciton specialist who started me on the opiate antagonist I have been on since last year. I credit suboxon with giving me the ability to think as I once did prior to opiate addiction. Suboxon coats the receptors in the brain and I will stay on it until the brain has had the 3 years’ period of time needed to rewire and repair receptor damage. This frees me to be able to address my personal growth issues and apply myself to the 12 step program I have found to be vital in my recovery.

I have applied and been awarded financial aid and admissions into the local community college, where I will complete a year of requirements- for transfer consideration to a 4 year college. It would only be a year after that before I could finish the typical undergraduate program.

I was interested in research psychology but fear that it is not possible with my record. I am not sure. I am having touble getting an informed answer anywere. I have shared all of this in hopes of receiving some suggestions that will give me insight into the types of careers that would not exclude me on the basis of my criminal record- and with the understanding that I know I have my work cut out for me.

I do not want to be a drug and alcohol counselor. I don’t like addicts. It seems to be the only suggestion I have heard repeatedly, so… I say in advance- I am interested in options other than drug and alcohol counseling. Anyone have any thoughts? I thank you for your time and information in advance. It is appreciated.



Answer #1

A lot of your future is going to depend on what state you decide to live in, and even (if necessary) license in.

Before you invest too heavily in your future career plans, determine what state will best enable you to succeed. It will not be the states of Virginia, Tennessee or Florida. In Virginia for instance you can’t any professional license from the state.

If you look in the Popular questions related to felons and career paths section below the input box you’ll see lots of previous questions/answers on this subject.

Personally I believe people can and do change. I feel that it is a shame that so many do not.

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