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.

Youth Counselor: Criminal Damage to Property; Vandalism; Indecent Exposure; Sale and Possession of Controlled Substances

drug dealer and vandal story

There came a point when we were just really bored. At 14, we stole tennis balls from the local court and pelted cars at stop signs with them; we called it pegging. Three to ten of us would jump out of the bushes and just boom boom boom dent up their cars.

Our vandalism developed over time – it evolved. We mooned cars at intersections – a bunch of teenage boys dropping trou at every opportunity. We stole street signs and construction lights and lawn signs for upcoming elections. We TPed people’s homes: hanging 200 rolls of toilet paper from our neighbors’ trees. One of my friends used to poop in people’s lawns and in their mailboxes: it was his signature move. We smashed potted plants. Around Christmas, we rearranged an entire block’s lawn-reindeer collection into a giant bobbing orgy.

It wasn’t just the color of my skin – it was the neighborhood too. If I’d grown up in downtown, I’d have been in and out of juvie. There was only one cop car for the whole neighborhood. We never got caught, and we were never worried about getting caught.

In college, I sold drugs. It was pretty straight forward: we’d buy drugs, illegally, and then sell them, illegally. There’s not much more than that. They were shipped through the US Postal Service from some guy in California to our dorm room. We weren’t too worried about getting caught: it was a small private school, where campus security wouldn’t involve police unless it was a really big deal.

I don’t even know what would have happened had I been caught. I never needed to think about it. That’s definitely a consequence of my privileged upbringing.