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.

School employee: Arson, Vandalism

School employee Arson Vandalism story

Last night, I started thinking about all the things I’ve gotten away with, counting them off on my fingers. There was that, and that, and yep, that too. The one I wanted to tell you about was something my buddy and I started doing when we were in high school, and continued to do on summer breaks in college.

The elementary school in my hometown has a tall white wall separating it from the woods beyond. We’d mix up what he called ‘napalm’ in a bucket–or whatever was on hand–and take it down to the school at night and ‘paint the wall.’

I never struck the match–I was far too scared I’d hurt myself–so my buddy did. One time we painted an evil-looking smiley face. Just bizarre, I know. And once that napalm stuff lights up, it lights forever. So there we would be, with this face or whatever burning bright into the night, confident we wouldn’t get caught: you see, the chances of a cop coming by were slim to none.

Now I work at a school. Can you imagine? I wouldn’t be allowed in the front door.

You know, I never really thought about it all. It’s just kids being kids–normal behavior. But, yeah, it was exhilarating.