Matthew Hahn Profile picture
Jan 14 17 tweets 5 min read
Within a month of leaving prison, I was accepted into @UCBerkeley and received my bachelors with a 4.0. My felony record prevented me from finding work, even at my alma mater. A thread.
I spent years in prison going to college, mostly through a correspondence program with @ohiou. Shortly before paroling, I applied to every single UC in California. It was a quite a process, given the fact that I didn't have internet access.
My mother would send me the application materials and I would send them back to her. I would write the statement letters, send them to her and my father, they'd send them back with suggestions, and then I'd make edits. This all happened through snail mail.
Eventually I had everything submitted and I would have to wait for parole before finding out whether I had been admitted to any of them. I did not mention that I was in prison on the applications, nor that I had been there.
I was eventually accepted into every university I applied to, including @UCLA and @UCBerkeley. I settled on Cal, starting just a few months after parole and while still on parole. I graduated in December of 2013 with a 4.0 GPA.
After graduating, I applied for a job with a recently funded nonprofit / program at UC Berkeley campus. The purpose of this program? To help create a prison to college pipeline in California. It seemed like a perfect fit for me. I submitted a resume and waited.
And waited. And waited. Given the fact that I had been recommended for this particular nonprofit and had connections with people there, I was surprised that nobody had, at the very least, contacted me. Finally, I asked a friend to inquire.
Turns out, my resume never made it past the H & R department because I had self-disclosed my felonies, despite the fact that the non-profit / program I was applying to was meant to bring a college education to formally incarcerated people. Folks with felonies might be... useful.
My friend spoke with H&R: "Oh, we just shuffled out the people with criminal records," they said.

"Why?" my friend asked.

"Do YOU want felons walking around on campus if you can avoid it?" they replied.

"He already has been walking around on campus. He just graduated."
I was eventually granted an interview but had a sour taste in my mouth. I was eventually offered a job, but decided against it. Three months after graduating Berkeley, I was getting tired of everyone either ignoring me or wanting me to explain my criminal record.
When I was in the county jail, members of the electrical trade union @IBEW had given a presentation to folks inside. Explaining apprenticeship and union benefits. They ended by saying that they don't care what our pasts are so long as they stay there. I never forgot that.
When I was applying for jobs after graduating and having to explain my past over and over again, I kept remembering what those @IBEW folks had said. So, I applied for an apprenticeship.
I self-disclosed my felonies on the application. When I interviewed, they noted the record and called it a "hiccup", also explaining that I hadn't needed to put it down since it was from a decade earlier. I knew I had found my people.
I was eventually accepted into the IBEW. I joined the 5-year apprenticeship, received 8000 hours of on-the-job training, took the state licensing exam, and became a journeyman inside wireman.
Since joining the union and getting into the trades, I have never once been asked to explain my past. The only thing that has mattered is the quality of work I perform and the attitude I bring to the job. That's all that should matter.
And, while I'm at it, I might as well mention that I really love my union. It takes care of its members. I want everyone to enjoy the same high wages, care, and benefits of union membership. Check this out:
There are a few comments asking why I thought I was prevented from working there when I was eventually offered a job. Because my interview and offer only happened after pressure / shaming and, to me, that isn't what it means to get a job on merit.

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More from @hahnscratch

Jan 6
I once had a cellmate whose great aspiration was to earn a swastika tattoo. He was the most difficult person I ever lived with in prison. A thread...
I moved into the cell with Mike by choice. I didn't really know him, but my current cellee was a lifer addicted to Magic The Gathering and was mostly insufferable. Mike was close to me in age (26) and I thought this would make for a happier house. I was wrong.
I knew within a few weeks that it had been a mistake to move into a cell with Mike. He liked doing dope, which meant he had a good chance of getting himself into debt and trouble on the yard. When he didn't have dope, he would shoot up Benadryl. Yes, apparently that's a thing.
Read 28 tweets
Jan 5
If this had happened at Folsom Prison when I lived there, my cellmate would’ve starved to death.
It is bad enough that prison staff won’t bring food to immobile prisoners. It is literal torture to then disallow fellow prisoners from feeding them.
So often, prison rules make helping each other punishable with longer incarceration. Think about that… people coming home from prison have been taught that they shouldn’t help others. Fortunately, it does always work.
Read 5 tweets
Jan 4
My father’s love for me during addiction and after going to prison was everything we should want to see in men. A thread.
Growing up, my Dad was stern. I used to fear him - not in an abusive sense - but in the sense that he was the disciplinarian. He was also angry, something that I now attribute to being overworked and having a crumbling marriage with my mother.
I was addicted to meth in high school and dropped out. My parents debated whether to send me to rehab before I turned 18 - but my Dad didn’t like the idea of forcibly snatching me up and sending me away.
Read 22 tweets
Jan 2
Prisons are built on the labor of the incarcerated. Already inflated budgets of correctional departments would be exponentially higher if the incarcerated population weren't relied upon to keep prisons operating. Let's dispel some illusions and talk about prison labor. A thread.
Prisons are like small cities or nations. There are imports of raw goods, exports of manufactured products, and a labor force (incarcerated) that keeps the prison going. Food processing, trade work, trash collecting, administrative tasks, etc are all executed by prisoners.
Take the kitchen as an example. It may take as many as 20 people to prepare a meal for a prison or section of a prison. Of those 20 people, 18 are incarcerated, with one prison guard (in a custodial role) and one free staff (in an advisory role - managing the work).
Read 19 tweets
Jan 1
In prison, a correctional officer fired live rounds at a crowd of skinheads assaulting another prisoner. I was nearly struck by the bullet. A thread...
While exercising on yard at Folsom Prison, I noticed skinheads congregating at the corner of the track and surmised they were up to no good. I decided I would try to leave the track in order to avoid whatever was coming.
As I was leaving the exercise area, it appeared as though the skins were following me. Turns out there were after somebody on the pull-up bars beside me. A few moments later, I heard the scuffle of a fight and saw that about ten skins were punching and kicking one man.
Read 20 tweets
Dec 31, 2022
In prison, I had a cellmate who couldn't get medical treatment. He died in the cell with me. A thread...
Mike was sentenced to fifty years to life for stealing $200 from a convenience store. Mike was a Jehovah’s witness. Mike was my cellee. And Mike was sick.
Mike walked with a cane and slept with a CPAP strapped to his face. Other than his apnea, Mike didn’t really know what was wrong with him and the prison doctors certainly didn’t know either. What he did know was that it was getting progressively harder for him to walk each day.
Read 33 tweets

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