If you’ve ever been convicted of a crime, no matter how small, you know the stigma that you carry with you because of that conviction. Unfortunately, even something as minor as a shoplifting charge or disorderly conduct conviction can make life difficult in so many areas.
Probably the area where a criminal record has the most impact is in applying for and getting a job. While there are laws against discrimination, and yes, not hiring somebody because of a past criminal offense is considered discrimination, these laws are constantly being broken and are almost impossible to prove.
If you look at any typical job application there is almost always a section that asks if you’ve ever been arrested or convicted of a crime other than a motor vehicle offense. Many ex-convicts are hesitant to fill out this section because they are afraid that it will cost them the job. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter because if the employer checks, the conviction will turn up unless it was while the person was a juvenile, in which case the records are sealed. If ever there is a question of whether or not discrimination occurred the employer will always fall back on the standard answer, “There were other applicants more qualified”. Yes, discrimination against an ex-convict is very hard to prove.
Gaining employment isn’t the only place where an ex-convict has problems. There is the social aspect of his or her life that probably gets the biggest beating. Imagine a guy meeting a nice girl, taking her out for a drink or maybe dinner, they get to talking and the girl asks what he’s been doing with himself. Now if he’s been out of prison for a long period of time this can be fairly easy to get around. But if he’s just been newly released from jail and has been out of society for a while getting around the issue is close to impossible.
In the same situation, hardened criminals who have been serving a long sentence, and are just not used to being in society, have a hard time fitting in as it is. Their appearance will be different from most. Their actions will seem strange. They will seem ill at ease with their surroundings. This isn’t an opinion. There are studies that show how difficult it is for an ex-convict to get back into normal society. Ultimately, the girl will either find out he was in prison or he will have to tell her. Studies show that the percentage of relationships that actually succeed under these conditions is very small. In most cases, the girl will break it off as gently as possible.
There is an old saying that goes, “Once a con always a con”. While this isn’t always true, unfortunately, it is the perception of most people. We have a very hard time trusting somebody who has been convicted of a crime. Why? Simple. If they stole or injured or did something unlawful once, what’s to say they won’t do it again? In our troubled world, as it is, it’s hard to know who to trust, even if they don’t have a record. Certainly, someone who has already gone down that road can’t be a good risk for getting into a relationship.
Yes, unfortunately as much as we like to think of ourselves as a forgiving species, having a criminal record is usually a walking death sentence forever having a normal life again.