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.


Your Story: Theft

The person pictured above did not submit the story below. He 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 the late 90s, I worked for a large national chain of electronic stores. It was a lame company, but I needed a job.

I was a salesman, and we were paid basically on commission. But after the store closed, we had to work a 1/2 hour without compensation–counting the register, cleaning the display cases, vacuuming. We were understaffed, so the store wasn’t always thoroughly cleaned during that 1/2 hour after closing.

The regional manager was pissed by the lack of cleanliness, so he wanted us to work 45 minutes unpaid, not just 30 minutes. No way. They were not paying us big bucks and stock options. I was earning slightly more than minimum wage. I was willing to give them 30 minutes of daily unpaid labor, but I wasn’t going to give them 45 minutes. If the company really valued cleanliness, they should’ve hired a janitor or paid us for our free time. But they didn’t.

So the regional manager punished the staff by removing the table from the employee break room. This meant we had to eat lunch with the food on our lap, or in our car.

Up until that point, my co-workers and I were relatively honest and didn’t shoplift from our own employer. But removing our lunch table was a blow to our dignity and an insult to all our hard work. We took it personally. Perhaps we should have filed a complaint with corporate headquarters or a government agency. But we got our revenge the old fashioned way: we robbed ’em blind.

Sure, we occasionally stole some big ticket merchandise and listed it on eBay. But mostly we’d ring up small cash transactions for batteries or film without offering the customer a receipt and pocketing the cash. Since there was no table for a bagged lunch, we’d use the cash to eat out at restaurants. Every. Single. Day.

Eventually, management figured out that the inventory was suspiciously out of whack, so they posted signs in the store informing customers to contact the corporate office if the customer didn’t receive a receipt. But the customers ignored the signs. (Duh.)

That lame company probably would’ve saved a ton of money just by hiring a janitor. And we would’ve had a clean store, too.