Whether you're trying to get a job or rent an apartment, you know the application will ask The Question: "Have you ever been convicted of a felony?"
For most people it's an automatic "no." But for millions The Question is an automatic disqualifier - a reminder that even though they've paid their debt to society they're still shadowed by the stigma of a felony conviction.
I'm one of them.
More than 20 years ago - after growing up in San Francisco, going to Catholic schools, and playing music in the city's nightclubs - I was convicted of drug possession for a third time. That earned me a sentence of three to five years in state prison.
I was lucky. The judge offered me rehab rather than prison. I knew I needed treatment. I entered a residential drug program and emerged 18 months later, clean and sober.