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‘A second prison’: People face hidden dead ends when they pursue a range of careers post-incarceration


Jesse Wiese was in prison for seven years. He thought he had paid his debt to society when he left in 2006. Wiese earned his undergraduate degree while in prison and wondered how he could make the world a better place. He studied for the law admissions exam, thinking that he might become a legal professional and, maybe, someday, a court judge.

In 2008, Wiese relocated to Virginia in order to study at Regent University School of Law. He was happy and did well. He graduated after three years, with $150,000 in federal student loans and private student loan repayments. Now he focused on passing the bar exam. He spent the summer avoiding gainful employment in order to prepare for the two day exam. Except, unlike his peers, passing the bar would not be Wiese’s biggest hurdle to becoming a lawyer. The Virginia Board of BarExaminers could deny him a license to practise law even if he passes the challenging exam. The board conducts a character and fitness test before it awards a law license to any candidate who is otherwise eligible but has a felony.

Wiese was not surprised by the outcome.

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