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.

Business owner: Sale of Controlled Substances


I grew up in northern Minnesota but went to college at a private school in Wisconsin for my freshman year. Sophomore year I transferred to Duluth, moving in with my old high school friends. It didn’t take long to figure out that they were no longer just smoking pot; now they were selling it. Now I’m no angel, but they took it to another level.

It was soon decided that I was the ideal conduit to the untapped market across the lake.

I wouldn’t say that my participation was key to the entire operation, but it helped. After they trained me in, I answered phones. I determined who was a genuine smoker and who might be a snitch, and I sometimes took money, too.

Did I profit? Sure.

Very few of us have walked the perfect path. We all make errors in life. Hopefully, as we get older we make less.

Now I coach my sons’ hockey teams. Every year, I breeze through the applications: Have you ever been convicted of and then it lists ten or twelve offenses. I check no no no no. If it asked instead Have you ever committed, I don’t know how I would answer.

I’ve been in sales for 20 plus years and I can draw a straight line from my first internship out of college to where I’m at now. I’ve been lucky that nothing threw me off course.