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.

College student: Criminal Infringement of Copyright


Student One: I actually did get caught once at school ’cause I was, like, torrenting, and the whole thing–I don’t know if you guys are familiar with torrenting, but you can download it, but you’re not supposed to “seed,” which means putting it out there so other people can download. Apparently, I’ve forgot to stop Beyoncé’s I Am…Sasha Fierce, so I had to sign a letter and send it to the record industry and be like, I won’t do this again.

Student Two: In my mind, I don’t even classify that as criminal, because my dad does it. My parents are performing musicians who’ve had their stuff out on iTunes and stuff, and iTunes doesn’t tell them, so I’m like, If iTunes doesn’t give the artist anything, why would I give iTunes anything?

Student Three: I don’t think I started stealing music until college, and I don’t think I’d realized that so many people do it and that it was that easy to do, but one thing that I’ve noticed is that I only am willing to, I guess, steal certain types of music. I’m a classically trained musician, and I’ve seen the passion and the effort that it takes to be an artist and to perform, and so for me, stealing their music after the amount of training they’ve gone through would be very unethical, but if it’s Beyoncé or if it’s Rihanna or if it’s somebody who’s not writing their own music, who’s stealing everybody else’s music in the end, and contributing to a gross capitalist system, it’s like, no, you know what? Screw you. I’m gonna take it. I don’t really care as much, quite frankly. It’s not “music” music to me.

Student One:

And I think it’s interesting what socially decriminalizing something can do. Like what you said–we don’t even think of it as a crime. Its actual legality doesn’t mean shit.