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.


confess theft black coat

When I was younger, I went through a bit of a theft phase. My brother and I used to go to a grocery store, ironically called Cops, and we would steal fishing lures and all kinds of stuff. We’d stick the lures down our pants. No one said criminals were smart.

We would make up elaborate stories to tell our parents how we got them, like we found them on the lake or a friend gave them to us. Our grandmother didn’t believe us, you could tell.

It was a chunk of time. I don’t know what it was. Maybe it was just fun. Maybe we wanted the stuff. Or maybe it was just the thrill of getting away with it. I guess we just grew out of it.