One in four people in the United States has a criminal record. It’s a record used by the vast majority of employers, legislators, landlords, and licensing boards to craft policies and determine the character of an individual. In our electronic and data age, it typically does not disappear, regardless of how long it’s been or how far one’s come. The effect is an endless sentence, precluding countless opportunities to move on or move up in life.
But what about the other 75%?
We Are All Criminals is a documentary project that looks at the three in four people in the US who have the luxury of living without an official reminder of a past mistake. Participants tell stories of crimes they got away with. They are doctors and lawyers, social workers and students, retailers and retirees who consider how very different their lives could have been had they been caught; these confessions are juxtaposed with stories of people who were caught for similar offenses.
The stories are of youth, boredom, intoxication, and porta potties. They are humorous, humiliating, and humbling in turn. They are privately held memories without public stigma; they are criminal histories without criminal records.