In today's 21st century world, a criminal conviction can have a drastic effect on a person long after the indiscretion occurred-and much more so than in years past.
Even someone who was arrested whose charges were later dropped, or one who was not even convicted of a crime at all, can face stigma years after the incident.
According to a recent study-there is a big reason why people today than ever before are perpetually haunted by their past.
Basics of the study
The study entitled "Indefinite Punishment and the Criminal Record" was published in Criminology, a peer-reviewed journal part of The American Society of Criminology that conducts research on crime and delinquency.
Researchers examined 53 men and women in the Chicago area with varying criminal backgrounds who were looking to expunge (seal or wipe from public access) their criminal records. Some participants had prior convictions; others had minor arrests on their records.
An astonishing number of participants-both with significant and minor histories-reported continuous, negative effects as a result of their past indiscretions. The inability to get into college and receive financial aid, obtain a job or housing were among the list of issues they faced.
Researchers pointed to a big reason why: the internet
The double edge sword of the internet
Society has been able to access information in seconds with the click of a mouse due to the continued expansion of the internet that changed our world forever when it launched in the early 90s.
In today's 21st century world, no longer do we need to plow through journals, books or archives to find answers; we simply just search online. But such ease of information via WiFi has also made it much easier to locate an individual's criminal history.
Twenty five years ago, it was much more difficult for employers and the public to find information on a person than it is today.
In today's world, agencies post information to countless online databases. Private entities have also launched fee-based sites, offering personal information that can be accessible by landlords, employers and the general public.
Not only is an individual's personal information widely available-it's also hard to delete once it's on the web. Even out of date information is difficult to erase.
And this is what's making it difficult for individuals to get past their previous brushes with the law.
To many reading this, the results of this study may seem daunting and hopeless for those simply looking to forget about the past and live life as productive citizens.
But there is hope and there are options. Consulting with a criminal defense attorney is the first step to finding out what can be done and what steps can be taken to help enhance future opportunities.