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.

Media manager: Criminal Damage to Property

| Media manager’s living room |

It happened over a decade ago. I was in grad school in a small town. The people were predictable, and I was bored. Most days, I would leave school by five and be at the bar by six. Sometimes I talked to people, sometimes I brought them home. But largely nothing really interesting happened. I was stuck.

I had drunk a pitcher by myself that night, leaving sometime before close. Walking through the parking lot, I suddenly needed to know what it would sound like to pop a tire. I had to know if it would really pop or just swoosh. I took my Swiss army knife—I always had it on me those days—and jammed it into the driver’s tire of a beat-up 70s Chevy. It was disappointing. Just a pfffft and it was over. So I thought maybe it was an anomaly—the next one would be better. One led to two which led to three which turned to four and the car just went plop. Of course I shouldn’t have expected anything more than a slow leak in that town.

The next morning I realized what I had done. I felt so bad. It was just some beater car, some guy just trying to get by. I made it all the worse.

In life, I did okay. I have a good job, I own my own home, and I volunteer in the community. But that night still causes me guilt.

I’m not a bad person, even though I did something bad. It’s just not who I am.