How To Spin Your Rap Sheet

Convicted murderer Angel Ramos tells Sabine Heinlein how newly released prisoners frame their stories for employers:

“[On the job application, you] put down the penal code of the crime—125.5 for murder, for example,” Angel explained. “Don’t put the crime itself. Write: ‘Will explain further at interview.’ This is a place of business, and you don’t want people to gossip. This shows, ‘I’m looking out for you already.’  That’s a technique. ‘Imagine how I’m going to look out for you once I do work for you.’ It’s great psychology. Plus, people get interested. They want to know, ‘What the hell is 125.5?’ You want the guy to talk to you.

Then it’s your time to sell yourself.

When he asks you about the crime, you go, ‘Well, when I was 18 years old, I got involved with some bad people. Somebody died; I was convicted of murder, and I was given life.’ Not fifteen-to-life. Life! ‘However, I was released for good behavior. While I was in there, I did this and I did that.’ You go through your spiel. You talk about your social skills, your soft skills, your hard skills. You calm that person down. In other words, I went to jail, and it’s not a big deal. You shouldn’t be afraid of me.

Once you see that on his face, it’s no longer an issue. You move on to getting that job. What skills can I bring to this job? What can I do better than the other fifty applicants? I bring a whole different perspective. I think outside the box. I work harder than most guys. I love working. I’ve proved that I’m worthy of work. I can handle difficult people. I’ve been handling difficult people all my life. I have people skills. Then he sees that I’m not typical. I’m already blowing your bubble what prison is all about. It’s all marketing.