Everyone makes mistakes in life. But unfortunately, some mistakes can have long-lasting consequences. According to a report from the Center of American Progress (CAP), even if you’ve never had a conviction or served time behind bars, a criminal record creates lifelong barriers that pose a significant challenge to successful rehabilitation.
One in every three adults in the U.S. has some type of criminal record. But even if it’s just a misdemeanor, a criminal record can limit your job opportunities, housing options and access to further education. It’s a troubling reality that one spot on your record can make moving on and contributing to society inaccessible in countless ways.
It limits employment prospects
Finding steady employment is virtually impossible with a criminal record. Any arrest during your lifetime reduces more job-opportunities than any other employment-related stigma. Studies have shown that having a criminal record can reduce the number of job offers or callbacks you receive by 50%.
What’s more, is more than 60% of the formerly incarcerated remain unemployed a year after their release. Those who do find a job receive 40% less pay than employees who have no record.
It dictates where you live
According to CAP, four out of five landlords perform criminal background checks on potential tenants. Public housing can deny or even evict an individual or family for having an arrest on their record.
While the Housing and Urban Development agency has worked to encourage local housing agencies to approve those with a criminal record, housing discrimination persists. A report from the Ella Baker Center found that 79% of returning citizens were denied housing due to their criminal record.
It prevents access to higher education
Like job applications, many colleges also ask prospective students whether or not they have been convicted of a crime. An estimated 66% of universities use criminal background checks in their admissions process.
Even if accepted for enrollment, you may have to disclose your record when applying for student housing, study abroad or internships. If you have a felony drug conviction, federal law may prohibit you from receiving specific grants.
The effects of a criminal record don’t just stop after you’ve served your time and paid your dues. Even a seemingly minor crime can have far-reaching implications on nearly every aspect of your life.