Health, Wellness: Many Dating Apps Ban Convicted of Felonies. Does That Make Anyone Safer?

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

"Inside Out" by Keri Blakinger is a partnership between NBC News and The Marshall Project, a nonprofit newsroom covering the U.S. criminal justice system. The column draws on Blakinger's unique perspective as an investigative journalist and formerly incarcerated person.

Jason Hernandez got out of prison in 2015 and started making up for lost time. He'd done nearly 18 years on federal drug conspiracy charges, and only escaped life behind bars because then-President Barack Obama granted him clemency. He settled down near Dallas, began volunteering in schools, visited the White House and wrote a book.


Beltway Insider: Biden V-C Day, CDC, COVID/Vaccine Totals, Israel/Hamas, Colonial Pipeline, NYC


Then he decided to start dating, so he downloaded Tinder. He was open about his past, and at first, it was fine. But a couple months ago, he got a notification: "Your account has been banned."

Jason Hernandez, shown at a park near his home, has been banned from multiple dating apps. Zerb Mellish / for The Marshall Project.


"It's using the justice system as a barometer of someone's worth," 

a sociologist said.


Although he can't prove the reason why, he's been booted from half a dozen other apps with similar prohibitions tucked into their terms of service: People with felonies — anything from a $10 drug conviction to capital murder — are banned for life.

These policies aren't new, but their enforcement has been haphazard.


DNA Solves Decades Old Cold Case


That could change. Match Group, which owns Tinder and a host of other dating sites, plans to launch a feature allowing daters to run background checks on potential matches. The company says its efforts are aimed at keeping users safe. But civil rights advocates say the record checks extend an unfair practice of imposing "collateral consequences" long after people have finished their sentences and will disproportionately affect people of color without actually improving safety.

"Meeting strangers can be risky, and I worry that this approach will mislead people into thinking they're safe," said Sarah Lageson, a Rutgers University sociologist who studies the growing use of online criminal records. "It's using the justice system as a barometer of someone's worth."

Match Group wouldn't say when or why the company created its ban, but a spokeswoman said Match would "continue to develop and evolve" its policies. "We understand and share the concerns raised about the impact our policies have on people who have been incarcerated, many of whom are victims of the inequities of the criminal justice system," she said.


Bill and Melinda Gates Announce Divorce


The practice of banning people from certain rights or activities because of a criminal conviction was once known as civil death. People who were convicted of felonies lost all property and rights before the usual punishment: execution. Now, the collateral consequences of a conviction typically last far longer than any court's sentence.

In some states, people with felonies cannot serve on juries or buy pepper spray, and can be disqualified from getting an electrician license or fostering kids. Employers often exclude applicants with criminal backgrounds, some schools won't admit students with felonies, and many apartments ban people with misdemeanors.

As someone with a criminal history, these are problems I understand. More than a decade ago, I was arrested in upstate New York with 6 ounces of heroin and sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison. Afterward, I stopped doing drugs, finished college and became a journalist.


Human Trafficking Ring Busted in Houston


Read the full column on NBCNews.com and on TheMarshallProject.org

Haute Tease

  • WALT DISNEY ANIMATION STUDIOS UNVEILS ADDITIONAL CAST FOR “FROZEN”

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    BURBANK, Calif. (December 19, 2012) -- Walt Disney Animation Studios has given voice to its extreme mountain man from the comedy-adventure “Frozen.” Tony Award® nominee Jonathan Groff (Broadway’s “Spring Awakening,” TV’s “Glee”) is on board to help bring Kristoff to life in the epic journey slated for the big screen November 27, 2013.

     
  • Two of Us Review – Strong Character Driven Performances Layer the Realities

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Two of Us, from Magnolia Pictures and Magnet Releasing, presents the story of two lesbians, one out and the other closeted, who have known each other since childhood and have had a love affair or obsession, since youth.

     
  • The OSCAR Live Action and Animation Shorts – Riveting, Gripping and Vibrant Films

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Often in the shadows, The OSCAR Shorts have become more than the beginnings of greater potential with big budget efforts, big budget payoff and their own streaming platform, the OSCAR Shorts have arrived and the world is noticing.

     
  • Griffin Debuts Eco-Friendly WoodTones Earbuds Made from Reclaimed Wood

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Griffin Technology, one of the world’s foremost creators of innovations for everyday life, launched WoodTones ear buds made with wood reclaimed from other manufacturing processes.

     
  • L'hôpital, Entre Coût et Prix

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    La dette accusée par l'ensemble des hôpitaux français sera en partie reprise par l'Etat. Mais sile financement de l'institution n'est pas remis en cause, les raisons du déficits restent entières et sans réponse viables. Explications.  

  • Don’t Read This On a Plane Review – An Entertaining, Risqué Comedic Drama

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Don't Read This on a Plane, from Gravitas Ventures, presents a mix of global, carefree, travel visiting seven exotic European destinations, as a very liberal author who writes a risqué tell-all begins a publicity book tour.

     
  • Le Révélateur Rwandais

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Si de nouveaux documents d’archives tendent à confirmer le rôle de la France dans le  génocide des Tutsis au Rwanda en 1994, les révélations apportées confirment en filigrane le  déclin de l’influence diplomatique de l’Hexagone à l’échelle internationale.   

  • MIFF: Breakout Documentary "Influence" Books Additional Press Screening

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    After overwhelmingly demand, the Moscow International Film Festival announced the South African documentary "Influence" from Directors Diana Neill and Richard Poplak has booked a second press screening on October 7 at 12:30 in the Cinema Center.

     
  • 2013 International CES To Feature Record Amount of Exhibit Space

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Arlington, Va., December 11, 2012 – The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)® today announced that the 2013 International CES® will feature a record amount of exhibit space, with the show floor totaling more than 1.87 million net square feet. The previous record was 1.862 million net square feet at the 2012 CES. Owned and produced by CEA, the 2013 CES, the world’s largest innovation event, is scheduled Tuesday, January 8-Friday, January 11, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

     
  • Op/Ed: Data Mining, Artificial Intelligence, and Angels of Death

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Google is universally known as a search and advertising company. Now Google is tapping into the $3.5 trillion healthcare market. To compete with the Apple Watch, Google acquired FitBit, the wearable exercise, heart rate, and sleep tracking device. Data is king.

     
  • Money News: The Bear Returns, Dow, European Markets Suffer; Asian Markets Up

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The DOW Jones Industrial Average, struggled to get up under the heavy losses that refused to let up as this third Monday of fighting off the bear was met with a slow steady uncontrollable decline and finally the week was over.

     
  • Dr. Michael Tick Explains When It Comes to Skincare Ingredients, Women & Men's Skin Are Not Created Equal

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Besides having facial hair, there are structural differences between a man’s skin and a woman’s. Androgen (testosterone) stimulation causes an increase in skin thickness, which accounts for why a man’s skin is about 25% thicker than a woman’s.

     
  • Home, Décor: Tips For Redesigning Your Child’s Bedroom

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Home is a place of comfort and a reflection of one's style. Every area counts—from the living room to the mudroom. During a redesign, a child's room can be a blank canvas for creation and style.

     
  • HL Lifestyle: The Cost of Child Care in Every State

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Deciding to have a child is arguably the biggest decision a person makes in her life. With parenthood comes a profound responsibility that ranges from protecting to educating. While countless joys accompany parenting, there are costs too — and they take effect even before birth.  

  • The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble Review – Bravo, Magnifique, A Masterpiece

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble, from The Orchard and Participant Media, debuted at the Los Angeles Film Festival, to rave reviews of the power of music, in all its forms, to bridge cultural differences and divides.