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.

Teacher: DWI


| Teacher’s cabin |

There’s not much to tell. That is, it’s all a bit fuzzy.

Let’s see. This was many, many years ago—I’m retired now—but at the time I had just started teaching high school. The weeks were long, longer than weeks seemed to be before. There was so much pressure and tension during the week, trying to please everyone, motivate the kids, placate their parents, follow all the rules the administration was imposing. If I had been more mature, I could have handled it better, but I was a late bloomer.

By the time Fridays came around, I was ready for a drink or several. We teachers would meet at a nearby bar or one of our homes, drink ourselves silly and then somehow miraculously get home. We didn’t live in the cities, or even really a city, so drives from one small town to the next were long and, on Friday nights, weaving.

I remember one night in particular. Viv’s cousin was visiting from Minneapolis and brought with him the makings for strawberry daiquiris. I had never had a frozen mixed drink and was happily consuming them as quickly as he could blend them. I’m not sure how my roommate and I made it home, but we did. I woke up the next morning on the stairs. Ellie was on the bathroom floor with her shoes in the hamper.

Looking back, I think the town would have tarred and feathered me—all of us—if they had known, and if they had the same standards then as they do now. With the passing of time and increasing of maturity, this kind of activity lost its attraction. Thankfully, I saw the light before the flashing lights saw me.