There are real economic stakes when it comes to having your past on record in perpetuity. The name of a person who’s been arrested lives online forever, which can then can hurt someone’s ability to, for example, get a job or run for office, reports Marketplace. Employers tend to be reluctant to hire those with criminal records and there are other collateral economic consequences, like being unable to obtain certain occupational licenses or public benefits. Amanda Agan, an assistant professor of economics at Rutgers University, said that she and other academics found that even being charged with a misdemeanor crime could increase one’s future recidivism. Having a criminal record can also affect someone’s housing prospects, since landlords often do background checks when determining who to rent to.
A Brennan Center for Justice study found that the aggregate annual earnings losses for those with criminal justice involvement amount to about $372 billion. According to the study, “because Black and Latino people are also over-represented in the criminal justice system, these economic effects are concentrated in their communities and exacerbate the racial wealth gap.” In response, newsrooms are recognizing how racial bias is built into the criminal justice system, and are asking themselves how their reporting may be contributing to potential injustices.