I read your response and I believe I understand (at least figuratively) where you are coming from. My response to your query is yes, at a certain point in my life I became part of the 'public safety' community, and was indeed shielded somewhat from the repercussions of my (mostly) youthful indiscretions. But I was given breaks before that time, without which I wouldn't be the moderately productive tax-paying citizen I am today.
I live in San Francisco, born and raised...and it has been my experience that, due to the regular reoccurrence of 'real crime'...a certain level of vice is tolerated. But this shouldn't be about how gwailo_joe got away with more than his fair share of petty bullshit...
My parents left the East Coast and met here in the early '70s. Had me. Dad quit his stage aspirations to get a real job slanging WANG for the Feds. And tho we were among the working poor...it was enough (with some food stamps etc) so that I could be raised.
Two critical points: stable family unit, and...literacy. Books, always with the books. And later in my life, I was fortunate enough to meet mentors; Spanish, Italian, Irish, who had businesses and skills, so that I could learn and grow as a man.
My eventual point is this: If my parents came from the same place (but were Black)...would our Chinese landlord have rented to them in 1974? Doubtful. Could my father gotten the same early-IT job from the government if he was Black? Unlikely. And even if that were the case, could I have found three solid, successful African American independent business owners to help me along my path?
In some parts of the country, sure. In SF...not likely. Why? Demographics, property values, historical prejudice etc: as is abbreviated so often: RTFA. (not you S_S, just generally...)
As a White American who has had Black friends, lost Black friends...went to an 80% Black school, had Black people steal from me and fight with me...but also love me and be kind to me.
I remain a conflicted man in a culture of absolutes: Black people are 'this' way, Asian people are 'this' way, gay people act like 'this' etc etc etc ad nauseam...because nuance is difficult and requires thought and so is ignored in favor of snap judgements and gut feeling.
I wish it were different. All I can do is make personal choices that are equatable and fair and vote and spend my money in ways that avoid giving power to the worst of the demagogues.