Does a criminal record need be a lifelong scarlet letter?
We live in a digital world, where each person’s documented past is accessible at the stroke of a key and click of a button. This powerful technology can literally save a life—medical records can be accessed in seconds, assisting in diagnostics and preventing allergic reaction. On the other hand, anyone with access to the internet can rummage through your past, including the most challenging and difficult moments. For many people, some serious mistakes led to criminal conviction. In the past, the decision to disclose was a delicate balance of transparency versus privacy, with the choice ultimately residing with the individual. That choice has been stripped away, and we wear our past on our sleeves.
Even the bored and nosey next-door neighbor can sneak a peek behind your curtains.
For those with shame over their criminal record, know that you are not alone. It is estimated that over 30% of the adult population has a criminal record of some sort. That is one in three of all Americans. The next time you are in a group of people, look around and do the math—even if you have a clean record, someone close does not. The number of people with serious convictions are likewise staggering. When only looking to those convicted of a felony offense—a crime punishable by more than one-year imprisonment—the figure is shockingly high, nearly 10% of the population. These statistics are sadly skewed against minorities in our country, comprising a disproportionate segment of the incarcerated population.