Employment: The presence of a criminal record can more than halve the chances that a job applicant will receive a call back for a job interview.

Housing: Finding housing (public or private) is extremely difficult with a criminal record. This results in increased homelessness and split families – where the person with a record (a parent, child, or other family member) is forced to find shelter elsewhere.

Education: Despite no established link between criminal records and campus safety, records make admission into higher education – and financial assistance to support it – very difficult.

Working in licensed places and positions: State law prohibits people with certain records from working in fields or facilities with vulnerable people. Here, hundreds of crimes disqualify job applicants from seven years to life for records ranging from conviction to mere arrest.

Immigration: Criminal records can have a profound and permanent effect on one’s immigration status, results ranging from the inability to naturalize (and petition family members to live in the US) to deportation.

Voting: 70,000 Minnesotans can’t vote due to a felony conviction. This disproportionately impacts African Americans (10% disenfranchised) and Native Americans (6.5%). Meanwhile, research has shown that civic engagement can reduce recidivism.

Travel: Criminal records can prevent people from traveling outside of the United States, from crossing the Canadian border to obtaining a travel visa.

Government assistance: Criminal records, drug convictions in particular, can cause blockades to receiving government assistance for individuals and their families.

Advocate: Unlawful Possession of Explosive Devices


I love to light stuff on fire and watch it burn. I understand the morbid fascination with fire and explosives when people say, I just wanted to see what it was like. Yeah, I completely get that. Especially with fireworks.

Fireworks are illegal in Minnesota, so my boyfriend and I would take road trips to load up. We traveled to Wisconsin one year, South Dakota the next, hitting up the two-for-one specials under large roadside tents. We’d speed on the way there and follow all of the traffic laws on the way back.

One year we hotwired all the fireworks together, duct taping the fuses of bottle rockets, aerials with spray, mortars, and roman candles into one enormous and flammable mess. It went up like the Hindenburg, beautiful and frightening.

But we didn’t light all of them that night. We kept several hundred bottle rockets in our cars for the days when we all got bored. Now, this was a stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid thing. My friends and I would drive in tandem along the highway, speeding and launching rockets into each others’ cars.

As I was shooting at another car, I distinctly remember thinking that it would really suck if I got a splinter from the wooden stick at the end of the bottle rocket. I can’t believe that was my only concern.

I’m shooting an aerial at a speeding car, it’s got a gas tank, and I’m literally concerned about a splinter.

There was other stuff, too, although most of it was related to fire and explosives. At 16, I financed my sister’s attempt to build a bomb out of kerosene, cleaner, and tin foil. Some were misdemeanors, some felonies, but I was young and suppose that even if I had really thought about what I was doing, the benefit of how cool it was outweighed the danger.