ScreeningNotes’s review published on Letterboxd:
"Once you do a stretch, you're never clean again! You're never free! They've always got a string on you, and they tug, tug, tug! Before you know it, you're back again!"
The cycle of socioeconomic violence done to (ex-)convicts: you're never really an ex-con; once you're in, the system changes you—not anything actual/tangible about you, but the way it and others see and treat you, and even the way you treat yourself. If all noir is about existentialism, Crime Wave is about the existential effects of the criminal justice system.