We Are All Criminals
Robina In Conversation Series
One in four people in the United States has a criminal record. Used by the vast majority of employers, legislators, landlords and licensing boards to craft policy and determine the character of an individual, it can have a profound impact on one’s life. In our electronic and data age, it typically does not disappear, regardless of how long it’s been or how far one’s come. It’s a record that prevents not only professional licensure and a gainful career path, but can also get in the way of obtaining entry-level positions, foster care licenses, entry into college, and safe housing. It may even affect the attorney-client relationship, if the attorney is less likely to trust or empathize with a client because of his or her criminal record; criminal records may impact one’s access to justice.
Because of deep disparities in our criminal and juvenile justice systems and systems of community reentry, people of color, American Indians, and poor communities are disproportionately more likely to carry the burden of a criminal record.
We Are All Criminals seeks to challenge society’s perception of what it means to be a criminal and how much weight a record should be given, when truly – we are all criminals. But it is also a commentary on the disparate impact of our nation’s policies, policing, and prosecution: many of the participants benefited from belonging to a class and race that is not overrepresented in the criminal justice system. Permanent and public criminal records perpetuate inequities, precluding millions of people from countless opportunities to move on and move up. We Are All Criminals questions the wisdom and fairness in those policies.
University of Minnesota Law School Professor Perry Moriearty will lead this In Conversation with former Robina Fellow and author, Emily Baxter.
Emily will present her recently published book We Are All Criminals that includes some key findings of her research, challenging society’s perception of what it means to be a criminal. She will share stories of individuals who have been left behind because of their record and stories of those who have had the luxury of forgetting prior criminal behavior that never resulted in them obtaining criminal records. She will discuss the existence and impact of racial disparities in the justice system and how those disparities reflect in criminal records, as well a public policy and collateral consequences related to criminal record. This presentation will be followed up by a discussion between Professor Moriearty and Emily Baxter and wrap-up with audience participation and questions.
Copies of We Are All Criminals will be for sale at the event.
Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice
Continue the conversation at a brief reception in Spannaus Commons, immediately following this event.