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.
Student: Sale of Controlled Substances, Explosive Devices, and Shoplifting
For me, I was in a place. I wasn’t lost: I was floating.
There was nothing holding me, there was no stability. One of my parents had a few interesting mental conditions, and I didn’t leave home unscathed. During my formative years, a normal day was a great day – and I didn’t have many great days. I was really pissed off most of the time.
People thought I would do things without thinking, but that’s not true: I mapped out all of the possibilities and consequences, but the last point in my internal flowchart was always fuck it.
There wasn’t one isolated incident; it was a medley of acts.
Some of it was profitable. I sold painkillers and at one point, a re-up was four figures, easy. We started making edibles, because you can double your profit. Now I don’t know if there’s such thing as a moral drug dealer – but if someone wanted a huge quantity, I would say no. I didn’t want to wake up the next morning to find that some guy had offed himself. But sometimes you’d forget, and I do regret the immoral acts.
Some of it was chaos. We threw a half stick of dynamite in a parking garage to set off car alarms. Vandalism, destruction: just pure fun.
Some of it was for the rush. I didn’t buy any clothes for an entire year. I liked having things that weren’t mine; getting something out of the store was a challenge.
People assume your quality of life decreases if you’re caught – but I never expected good things to come out of my life. Though, I didn’t expect bad things either.
Four years ago, I changed the way I was acting and the way I was interacting with the world around me. It didn’t change overnight, but that was the start of it.
Everyone has done some shit, maybe not this intense – but everyone’s done something. Some people get caught, and it’s not the greatest system for them – especially when they deserve this opportunity as much as I do. Or maybe, I don’t deserve this opportunity as much as they don’t. We are equivalent. We did the same things, we just did them in different ways, and I had better luck.