We are ALL Criminals.

I am a criminal & it’s likely that you are, too. Some of us just didn’t get caught.

Emily Baxter, a 2011 Bush Fellow and the Director of Public Policy and Advocacy at the Council on Crime and Justice, is asking you (and me!) to fess up.

Looking back upon your life- were your “stupid mistakes” actually illegal? Have you ever thought about how different your life might have been if you were caught and held accountable?

If you had a criminal record:

  • Would you have been hired by your current employer or eligible for your professional license?
  • Could you pass the required background check to live in your apartment building or qualify for home and/or other bank loans?
  • With the label of convicted criminal, would others feel differently about you as a person? More importantly, would it change how you feel about yourself?

Think for a moment about the incredible power a criminal record has over every aspect of one’s life.

By telling the stories of project participants who were able to live without an official reminder of a past mistake, We Are All Criminals sheds some light on what we miss out on as a society when we place such a huge emphasis on person’s criminal history. After initially expecting stories from a “bunch of liberals with a history of 5th degree controlled substance crimes,” the response to this project was overwhelming. As of this writing, Emily amassed over 200 cases (ahem, maybe 201) from participants all along the political and socio-economic spectrum and with crimes much more interesting (and serious) than smoking a joint in college.

This Thursday, October 24, 2013, at 5:00 p.m., Emily Baxter, along with the Council on Crime and Justice, will officially launch the “We Are All Criminals” website with an exhibit that includes a sampling of some of the stories told to her in various artistic mediums. The event will be held at at the Belmore/New Skyway Lounge, 25 N. 4th Street, Minneapolis, MN.

With this project and each story told, Emily hopes to:

  • Question the validity of a criminal history in determining one’s character
  • Educate legistlators and the public regarding the serious implications of current policies
  • Encourage introspection and increased compassion towards those convicted of crimes

This project only works if people are willing to share their mistakes and indiscretions with Emily. Recognizing that this is a difficult thing to do, every effort will be made to conceal the identities of participants.

For more information on the project, or to participate, please check out the “WE ARE ALL CRIMINALS Website and Project Launch Party” page on Facebook. Click here, for a preview of the project (from a previous event sponsored by Revolver) We Are All Criminals preview .