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.
Journalist: Using Artificial Light to Locate Animals; Using Motor Vehicle to Chase Wild Animal; Hunting Out of Season; Removal and Possession of Traffic Sign; Possession of Controlled Substances
My friend and I got into a lot of mischief the summer between high school and college. I suppose it was sort of a bucket-list before leaving town.
One night we shot cats. Well – I didn’t shoot the cats, but I did drive, I did roll my window down, and I did shine the spotlight. My friend hit one with a 22. The cat turned out to be an out-of-season fox, which might be worse.
But usually our delinquency was limited to yanking road signs. Not important road signs – just the ones where maybe if you were lost, you would stay that way. County signs, city signs, street signs.
At the request of a girl, we decided to steal a neighboring town’s street sign. So, late one night, we parked up on this curb in the middle of nowhere and I began unbolting the sign.
Is that the wind?
Yeah, that’s the wind.
Cool… Is that the wind?
Yeah, that’s the wind. Keep going.
Is that the wind?
No, that’s a car.
So I hopped down and flung the bolts in the bushes. The sheriff came racing up, lights off, just after I jumped down from my truck’s bumper. He wanted to know what we were doing, asked us if we had drugs in the truck. (We did, but said we didn’t. He took our word for it.)
While he was questioning us, he was standing under that road sign. If he looked up and seen the missing bolts I would have been calling my dad from the county jail. It’s crazy – this was the sheriff that I was outsmarting here. (Well, not outsmarting because that sounds cocky. But pretty much outsmarting because I was definitely doing something illegal and he couldn’t figure out what it was.)
I told him we were just fixing a light in the truck. The doors were already open and cops know better than to snoop around in white peoples’ business. You don’t mess with privilege. I could tell he was frustrated, but he let us go.
It’s definitely because we were white that he didn’t go into further detail.
We drove away scot-free and got stoned again later that night. (Thanks again for not checking the trunk.)