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.
Stole prescription medications
The person picture above did not submit the story below. She 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.
In high school, my sister and I did not get along. At all. We always fought. We didn’t ‘get’ each other. She was (and still is) on many medications, including Adderall.
I knew she needed it, but frankly – I didn’t care. Every once in a while I stole some. Sometimes, I popped them myself. Other times, I sold them to my friends (who took them during tests or while underage drinking).
My sister and I now get along – and I understand how her medication helps her. I’ve done many bad and illegal things in my life, but this was by far the worst – and what made me feel most guilty.
If I had a criminal record, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I wouldn’t have gone to college. I wouldn’t have gone to graduate school. I would have been shunned from jobs, internships, housing.
I had it easy. All I have to live with now is my guilt.