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.
Driving Under the Influence
The person pictured above did not submit the story below. She 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.
I drank and drove so many times in high school and college that I’m amazed I never got into serious trouble. I remember one night, I was 18, I was driving to a party with a friend. We had two cases of beer in the backseat that we had just bought from a grocery store that sold to minors and were passing a joint back and forth. The windows were down, music was blasting from the stereo, and we were singing along at the top or our lungs. Eventually we tossed the end of the joint out of the window and that’s when I saw the lights flashing in the rearview mirror; I was getting pulled over by a cop. My friend and I were both stoned and drunk so, naturally, we were freaking out but I pulled over, shut off the engine, and managed to remain calm. The cop came over to the driver’s side and asked for my license and registration, which I handed over. He asked where we were going and we said to a party. He asked what we had thrown out of the window and we said a cigarette. Then he looked in the backseat and saw the cases of beer and instead of administering a breathalyzer or drunk driving test he told us to open each can and pour out every beer, which we did right there on the side of the road. Then he said that he was only giving us a verbal warning and that we should go home right away instead of to the party, which, of course, we didn’t do. I think about that night often, about how lucky we were, and I wonder how much our privilege had to do with his letting us off the hook.