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.
When I was little, maybe ten or eleven, my sister and I went to the grocery store with my parents. While they were shopping, she and I stole these temporary tattoos that were on the yogurt container lids. There were so many tattoos (butterflies and rainbows!) so what started with just one each became ten and then twenty. Whenever someone came over we pretended to be examining the eggs, playing it cool. My little sister asked if it was okay. I said I think so. Everyone else is so old, what would they do with them? But in the weeks that followed we were convinced that the police would come knocking at our door. We decided to never do it again because it just wasn’t worth all the scariness.