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.

Volunteer Coordinator: DWI


Driving intoxicated wasn’t just a one-time thing. I haven’t done it for a long time now, but in college I did it a lot.

We drank a lot then. It was the culture. Probably four weeks out of the night we were drinking.

We lived by a Taco John’s my sophomore year, literally right across the street. We’d be drinking at our house until two, three in the morning when we’d get hungry. Taco John’s closes early, but their drive-thru stays open late. Now, they don’t let you just walk through a drive-thru. So we’d get into our cars, drive through to get food, turn around, and go the few feet back home.

It wasn’t just drinking and driving (although for the most part it was). For instance, one day me and one of my buddies smoked some pot, drove up to the Dairy Queen for some Blizzards, and then drove back home.

I never drank a drop of alcohol before college. I was in a lot of sports, and I was just so paranoid that I would be kicked off the team. But once I got to college, I started drinking and smoking pot. That was our lifestyle.

After I graduated—thank God I graduated—I moved away from the college town, got a job, and got on with my life.