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.

Piracy

confess pirate

I produced a television show that dealt with obscure movies. As a result of this, I realized that there were a bunch of films that you couldn’t get in the US that were very easy to order on the internet.

So I started a pretty successful bootlegging operation for a couple of years where I would buy foreign movies, crack them, convert them to American video standards, re-author them, repackage them, and sell them on eBay.

I think the worst part isn’t the bootlegging, but the subtle language I had to use on eBay in order to sell them. It should stop bootlegs, but I had enough technical know-how to explain the product in a way that passed their rules.

I made a couple thousand dollars just in my spare time selling bootleg DVDs to people all over the country. I only pissed off five or six people.

I think the highlight of the whole enterprise was a letter I got from someone at a movie studio. He had bought one of my DVDs as part of a development plan to show his boss the foreign movie they wanted to remake. He was pissed off. How can I show my studio executive boss that I have a bootleg movie? I’m cool, so I strongly suggest you stop this. You will get caught.

We went back and forth and ultimately I stopped. It just wasn’t worth it: the amount of money I was making versus the potential ramifications.