One of our great romantic national myths is that no matter what you have done wrong, it’s pretty much always possible to remake yourself. You can move, take a new name, turn over a new leaf; the point is, your past need not define your future. Stories of reinvention have always had special resonance in America, from Huckleberry Finn to Pretty Woman.
But over the course of the last several decades, reinvention has become harder than ever people with criminal records. Technology has made it dramatically easier and cheaper for employers to find those records. These days, a fresh start can seem impossible.
“For most people who are arrested and charged with a crime, the criminal record is now perhaps the most important indicator of your public identity.”