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.

Government employee: Public Urination


I celebrated my graduations in style. At the end of my senior year of college, my friend and I went bar-hopping and got pretty drunk. On our way home, we made a pit stop to pee right in the middle of the main quad.

Three years later, I finished grad school and visited a friend to celebrate. We got drunk visiting all the bars in the town where he lived, and then we staggered back to his house. Our route took us through a public park and across a river. We stopped on the bridge and peed into the water.

Two months ago, I was on a run on the single-track trails at a city park. I had to go, so I stopped and peed in the woods.

Convicted of all of these, my record would make me out to be a serial urinator. Add convictions for a few months’ worth of underage drinking, along with providing alcohol to a minor (I once gave a beer or two to my 20-year-old sister), and my record would suggest chemical dependency issues. I am lucky to think of my criminal acts as fun nights with friends, not the incidents that ruined my job prospects.