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.

Attorney: Sale of Controlled Substances


I was shy in college. Painfully shy.

When I left home for college, I left behind the few comforts that in high school seemed to keep me grounded.

But that feeling of being cast adrift changed when two things happened: 1) my student loan check came and 2) I met Luke. Luke was a sophomore living in the same dorm, one floor up. He was an entrepreneur in need of fast cash to finance collegiate drug runs, and I had the means to help him. Along with a percentage of the profits came a built-in social life, complete with friends and (more importantly) girlfriends.

After a while I started smoking as enthusiastically as Luke was selling. It took some time, but eventually I was able to walk away and sober up.

After college I went to law school. Now I’m an attorney working at one firm and applying at others.

I can’t tell you how many background checks my name has been run through in the last year, but I can tell you how very relieved I am knowing that each time it will come back clean.