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.

Recent Graduate: Theft, Possession of Controlled Substances


It started with stolen six packs of Mike’s Hard Lemonade from the Rainbow on Larpenteur Avenue. I was 15 and believed that anything was palatable if pinched, and what was all ready good got better. Once the self-checkout lines were installed my sister and I would hit up the bulk goods section, filling plastic bags with pounds of candy we’d label and pay for as oats. The thrill of knowing it was nearly free made the sugar taste even sweeter. I would still do that today. That’s not so wrong.

I graduated from malt liquor to marijuana and mushrooms once I hit college. I took sociology courses about deviant behavior without realizing I was a deviant myself. In between classes, I worked a desk job and volunteered at a local nonprofit. It was stressful, and I was battling more anxiety than usual, so I’d self-medicate before class. Four years later, I graduated summa cum laude.

I got into grad school after that, leaving behind most drugs except weed. I marked a few holidays with coke, but otherwise, it was pretty basic.

Now, I’m on the job market. On paper, I look great—honors, top schools, and excellent work history. I’ll hold off on the drugs for a while to keep my system clean, but after I’m hired what’s wrong with having fun every now and then?