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.

Identity Theft, Possession of Stolen Goods, Theft

confess theft and false id

When I was in elementary school, I had a friend named Stacy and a friend named Heather. Heather was trouble. She taught me how to smoke a cigarette. My parents didn’t like her and she didn’t like Stacy. One day Heather and I left school early, went over to Stacy’s house, and found the key her parents left hidden outside so that she could let herself in while they were at work. We stole the key so she was locked out. Her parents called my parents and I got into huge enormous trouble.

Oh, and years later, my friend gave me someone else’s driver’s license to use at bars. It came with a couple of credit cards, too, so it seemed very believable. I didn’t realize until much later that it was probably a stolen wallet.