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.

Cultivated Marijuana

1-your story 6

The person pictured above did not submit the story below. He voluntarily posed for the photo to stand in solidarity with those living with the stigma of a criminal record, and those participating in the project. This story was submitted by an online participant, via the Your Story tab.

While in college and 18, I built a false wall (hollywood style) in the old coal room of my mom’s basement, making a little secret grow room, and grew 6 spindly little pot plants in there. I didn’t really even smoke, but I had some friends who did, and I just like secretive illegal stuff like that where no one gets hurt.

Anyway, the room was fairly ingenious but was always premised on the idea that no one would look at the wall without the lights in the larger coal room being on, since who would ever try to go into a dark coal room without turning on the lights? If it was really dark, you could see “light leaks” from the grow room and in fact probably even tell that the false wall was faintly glowing.

Well anyway, one night while I was away at college my mom thought she heard people breaking in and called the cops, who proceeded to search the entire house to make sure it was empty. She specifically mentioned that the cop went into the coal room, not turning on the light, and searching WITH HIS FLASHLIGHT. After he came out he shortly thereafter asked who else lived there and of course my mom said just her son who was off at college just now. I’m guessing that cop did see it but put 2 and 2 together and just didn’t have the heart to blow that thing up into a federal case over such a silly little operation that he could perfectly well deny having seen. Or else he really didn’t notice…I don’t know.

I should have been dead to rights, and by my reading of the relevant laws, and law enforcement practice at the time of weighting entire plants including roots with grow media attached, I would have been looking at as much as 5-10 years in prison PLUS my mother’s turn of the century $350,000 house could have been seized and sold.