Criminal, as a noun, is a broad term used to denote any individual who has been convicted of a crime. The arbitrariness of the term, however, emerges from its broad stroke which may define crime as anything from murder and rape to drug use or, in some jurisdictions, sexual acts between consenting adults.
In several countries, particularly the United States, a criminal record follows an individual long after they have served their sentence. This creates difficulties in finding employment, housing, and public assistance.
Because of the racial disparity of those who enter into the criminal justice system in many countries, the weight of the effects of criminality creates a burden that further intensifies institutionalized racism.
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander, The New Press, New York 2010, ISBN 978-1-59558-103-7