If you don’t live in a world where a significant percentage of the people, particularly men, have criminal records, you likely don’t see the effects of criminal records.
It starts with young men living in areas where employment is difficult to find. They need to make a living, and they, like everyone else, want the trappings of modern life. Gangs and crime seem to offer that.
They choose to get involved with a bad set of deicisons and often get arrested.
After years in jail, they get out and find the world doesn’t want them. They have a criminal record now, so they’re banned from most jobs and even renting an apartment. The question, “Have you been convicted of a felony?” is a loaded question that doesn’t offer any nuance. Even non-violent criminals who had a fatal car accident are banned from life.
Then what’s left for a way to make a living? Crime. The underworld won’t ask you about your record, so you can make a living until you get arrested again or get killed.