Thanks to the information superhighway, having even a single conviction on your record can make it difficult or impossible for you to get a job, a bank loan, or a place to live. Your record is easy to access and will follow you across the country and around the world. The idea that someone convicted of an Atlanta crime can be rehabilitated and “start over” has become a thing of the past.
Finding a job with a conviction on your record has become much harder than it used to be. Corporate employers and franchisers employ companies that specialize in doing computer background checks to “weed out criminals.” These big corporate employers are not like the local mom-and-pop businesses that once might have given you a second chance. If you have a crime on your record, there is an excellent chance you won’t be hired.
Even high-ranking government officials may have trouble reentering the workforce following a criminal conviction. Former Assistant Attorney General Webster Hubbell went to jail for refusing to testify against President Clinton. When he got out, his troubles were not over. He found that many companies will not hire a convicted felon because their insurers will drop their coverage if they do. Insurance companies also may decline to issue necessary coverage – such as property or malpractice insurance – to someone with a criminal record who wants to start their own business.
The Internet leaves those with a conviction – or even an arrest – on their record vulnerable to retaliatory attack. Today we are seeing the rise of the cyber-vigilante, who posts information about people’s private criminal information on-line. In cyberspace, there are no secrets and no second chances.