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.

Scholar: Possession of Controlled Substances

Scholar Controlled Substances story2

Before my husband died, when the pain and cramping was so bad he couldn’t shampoo his own hair or grip a pencil, I baked. I have asthma, so we couldn’t smoke — so the marijuana went in the butter, then in the brownies. He probably did it ten or eleven times, four times I joined him. Solidarity, I suppose. I guess I justified it: it was an herb, it helped, his mother new about it.

After he died, there was some of it left over in the house. I think it got used, but not by me. Maybe I threw it away.

But look at me. I’m white, a scholar, a woman. No one’s going to search my house. I’m aware of that privilege.

I would do it again: it was such an obvious and correct decision.

My husband, a marine who couldn’t untwist his hand to hold mine, for a short while felt a little bit better. In that context, it was okay; it wasn’t drug use, it was something else.