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: Possession and Unlawful Distribution of Controlled Substances; Trespassing; Underage Consumption; Public Intoxication; Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor; Driving Under the Influence
I was thinking about all of the things that I had done – Have I done that? Yeah, I’ve done that. Yeah, I’ve done that. Yeah, I’ve done that too.
I hadn’t really thought about any of it much until I started writing it all down. Once I started tabulating everything, it turned out to be kind of a long list. Would you like to see it?
First, there’s ‘use, distribution, sale, and possession of marijuana – under two grams.’ That was me using it, of course. But I’d also sometimes buy it on behalf of my friends and then sell it to them.
Then there was the same basic thing, but with prescription medication; that happened more than once.
There was trespassing and breaking and entering (I was exploring abandoned buildings); petty theft; being in a bar under age; underage drinking; public intoxication; buying alcohol for a minor; speeding (who doesn’t?); driving under the influence (tipsy once, high another time); open bottle in a car.
What is that? Fifteen? Twenty? Twenty-two crimes?
I was reading the stories of people who were caught – and the consequences they’ve had to deal with – and wow. I am so so so lucky.