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.

Transportation and Sale of Controlled Substances

confess thc smuggling

When I was going to grad school, moving to one state from another, amongst my beer and personal items I packed in three pounds of really high quality marijuana.

Each pound of marijuana was in a large Ziploc bag, kind of like a nice decorative pillow one might see on a couch or a sofa these days at Ikea.

It wasn’t very traumatic, but it was aromatic.

Nothing happened. We got to the city, dispensed of said contraband, and everyone lived happily ever after.

People convicted of drug offenses comprise half the federal prison population; the number of drug offenders in state prisons has increased thirteen-fold since the advent of the War on Drugs. Most of those incarcerated are low-level actors in the drug trade. See The Sentencing Project for more information.