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.
Shoplifting, Media Piracy, Tax Fraud
The person pictured above did not submit the story below. He voluntarily posed for the photo to stand in solidarity with those living with the stigma of a criminal record, and those participating in the project. This story was submitted by an online participant, via the Your Story tab.
I was a shoplifter when I was in middle school. Almost entirely small stuff — paperbacks, cassettes, nail polish. I gave it up because I realized how embarrassing getting caught would be.
I’m 35 now, and I still sometimes think about sliding something small into my pocket and walking out of the store.
I’ve pirated pretty much every form of media; smoked pot; bought alcohol underaged; and probably technically driven drunk, though never so far over the limit that I felt unsafe. Oh, and — at her request — we don’t pay taxes for our part-time nanny. Oops.