Sikeston man details new life after making past mistakes

Sikeston man details new life after making past mistakes

SIKESTON, MO (KFVS) - Finding a job can be tough and it can be even tougher if you have a felony on your record, but a new bill will take that burden away for those who stay on the right side of the law.

That new bill will seal ex-felons records and put that information on a need-to-know basis, in many cases turning old mistakes into new opportunity.

When you come inside The Knead Bakery, you'll smell the scent of freshly baked bread, tasty treats and fresh brewed coffee and it's all prepared by this guy, John Burke.

"I got a ticket for bowl of chili soup and a tuna avocado on wheat," Burke said as he recalls an order.

Burke has been the manager at the bakery for the last year, but his life hasn't always been so sweet.

"I kind of got bored and I wanted a sense of adventure, adrenaline and excitement," he said. "So I really didn't have to go out and run the streets but I chose to, being young and dumb I guess."

So, Burke began dealing with the wrong people and making wrong choices.

"2010 I caught an assault in second degree," Burke said. "[I] ended up getting a five-year sentence, did two and a half on it and that's where my journey in Missouri began."

After getting out of prison, John vowed to never go back.

He enrolled in a halfway house in St. Louis and began looking for a job, but ran into some struggles.

"People don't want to hire you because of your background. Its really hard to find jobs," Burke said.

Luckily for John Burke, he found The Knead, a bakery in Sikeston looking to hire ex-felons.

Now, more people in his position may get the same chance.  A new Missouri law shortens the amount of time certain felonies can stay on someone's record.

"It really doesn't matter what your background is you got to work!" he said. "And if you don't work you're going to resort to doing crib in order to pay for necessities to pay for living quarters."

But through all of John Burke's obstacles, his main goal now is to pay it forward for people just like him.

"I'm not done yet," Burke said. "Hopefully done breaking the law, but I'm not done being involved with convicts."

John plans to continue helping out ex-felons here in Sikeston and hopes to bring in more people to work at the bakery soon.

If you are an ex-criminal and are interested in the program, you can visit their Facebook page here.

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