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.

Librarian: Burglary, Interference with Transit Operator



In my growing up, the whole social attitude toward juvenile behavior was very different than it seems to be now. I mean, I’m confident that some of the stunts that we pulled as kids—if we did the same things now, we would be in the court system and probably incarcerated faster than we could blink.

It’s interesting that we’re here because the site of probably the most devilish—I was pretty straight-arrow when I was growing up, but our favorite Halloween stunt was enacted one block over from where we’re living right now. The hill going up Pascal was the streetcar line when I was growing up.

So the stunt always on Halloween was to get a five-pound can of lard from somebody’s pantry and grease the streetcar tracks. [laughs] The streetcar—you know, he’d come down Como, turn onto Pascal, and go down the hill to Midway Parkway, and then start up the hill and get about halfway up the hill, and the wheels would start spinning. [laughs] We were all, of course, sitting in the bushes, laughing ourselves sick, but I mean, as I say, if that sort of thing—if you did that today and a cop came by, you would be in deep, deep trouble.

In terms of most of my involvements in school—I was in the Library Club, which was the most prestigious organization in the whole school, and I think I still have my Library Club pin…

This crazy jewelry box is so dusty. You can tell I never go into it. I think it’s in here.

Here it is. Isn’t that wild? [laughs] Being a member of the Library Club was the impetus that launched my entire career in libraries. The 66 kids in the Library Club ran the whole library. Least, we thought we did.

I would think that the rules for participating in something like Library Club would have been strict enough that, if you got out of line, you would be ineligible in today’s world, if not suspended from school for who knows how long, or worse.