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.

Doctor’s Assistant: THEFT

dr's assistant

Back in the day, we thought no one could touch us. We were just kids—what could any one do to us?

And it wasn’t that I didn’t have money. I was a really spoiled kid. I could say, “Hey Dad, I’m going to the mall. He’d say, Here’s some money.” But there was a thrill factor to taking something that wasn’t mine.

It started with a girlfriend. She said, “Haven’t you every taken anything before? Let’s go.”

That first time, I was terrified. The shop was dark though, and teenagers were working. They didn’t notice, or probably care.

We took tee shirts, we took jewelry.

Gradually, we grew more intense. We wanted a bigger challenge.

We bought wire cutters – I still remember their green handle – I stuffed them into my big bag and we hit up a new store. My friend distracted the staff while I sliced through the theft-prevention wires on a pair of shoes.

I think the workers were just noticing that something was off when we ran out of the store.

That was the only time, beside the first time, that I was truly shaken.

I know I obviously shouldn’t have done it—and really, I took less than most people I knew.

But I think about what would have happened had I been caught. I was an upper middle class white girl. A friend of mine was caught, someone a lot like me; they didn’t even call her parents— just told her not to do it again.

I work in a clinic now, and handle the ordering. Yeah, I notice that there are plenty of expensive items just lying around, just going to waste. I know I could take stuff—but the thrill is gone. My conscience would eat me alive.

I’ve changed a lot since high school, and thankfully nothing has held that back.