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 retirement

Back in the 90s I worked in a coffee store that started by a man whose dream it was to own a coffee shop (he had worked at Dunn Bros and places like that for a really long time). He had got his dad to come in with him and they’d used up all his dad’s retirement money to start this place. They also brought in another guy to partner.

It’s really hard to run a coffee store and this guy didn’t do so well. His partner actually forced him out of the business but this guy’s dad couldn’t leave because all of his retirement money was in it. It was really sad: it was just this guy’s old dad (like 60 years old) and this one guy and us.

All of us that worked there had been hired by the guy that had been forced out and we all loved him (he was adorable). And so because we were stupid we decided the best way to show solidarity for him was to run the store into the ground. We didn’t really think about what it would do to his dad and his retirement money.

So! In the 90s people didn’t use credit cards (now it’s like people put $1.72 worth of coffee on their card) – it was all cash. So they would come in buy a pound of beans, and we wouldn’t ring it up. Buy a mug, wouldn’t ring it up. Pretty much, we’d only ring up the drinks we made on the espresso machine. Everything else went in our pocket.

Eventually the store went out of business, and the coffee shop that bought it out also went out of business and now it’s like a pizza place.

So I guess we won. But I still feel bad about his dad.